Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Week Guest Blog and Giveaway DAY 2: Chanukah Lights -- The Perfect Gifts for Writers by Michele Lang

UPDATE: The winner of a signed copy of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF TIME TRAVEL ROMANCE is Chelsea B.! Congrats! Please send your physical address to contests(AT)knightagency.net.

It’s that magical time of the year again! This past Friday marked the first night of Chanukah, and since I was a kid I’ve had eight nights of latke-eating, dreidl-spinning, chocolate-nomming, and present-opening – and, best of all, candle-lighting. I’ve always loved the candles the best, always and forever.
However, the Chanukah presents I got as a kid did not inspire shock and awe – Chanukah is traditionally a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar. One year I got a peanut – a peanut! It was part of a biology kit where you could sprout the peanut and see the root growth or something – I never learned the details because, I am sorry to say, I ate it.

Another year I got Mexican jumping beans, and I had the sense to at least not eat them. But they were dud beans and didn’t even wiggle. A sad, sad little present, that one…

But I honestly didn’t really care, because for me Chanukah has always been all about the lights. Chanukah is about the victory of a tiny, fragile flame over the forces that seek to snuff it out.

It is therefore the perfect holiday for writers, no matter what their background – our dreams are sparks, and writing itself is a way of shining light into the world. The best presents I’ve ever gotten were in the spirit of that little flame shining in the night.

My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Brady, once gave me a magical Chanukah present – he disguised it as a prize for my writing, and it was one of the most wonderful presents I’ve ever received. He gave me the book BLACK BEAUTY, and called my parents in to the school to tell them I was a born writer. He was the first person to insist I was meant to be a writer, and to this day I am in Mr. Brady’s debt.

That gift has stayed with me forever, not only the book itself, but the generous, loving spirit of its giver, my teacher. My passion for writing was a fitful little ember in those days, and Mr. Brady gave me the gift of seeing that light in me, and encouraging it to shine.

If you have a writer in your life, the best present you could give them is one that fans the flame inside of them to write. Time to write, books, chocolate…anything that celebrates that light’s desire to dance.

I want to pass on that giving spirit. I have a special present for you – a contest! One person will win a copy of the newly-released MAMMOTH BOOK OF TIME-TRAVEL ROMANCE, with not eight, or even twelve, but over *twenty* stories of love, powerful enough to defy time and space. I have a story in this collection, “The Walled Garden,” that considers the precious gifts we sometimes give each other without realizing. May you be inspired by these stories to write your own…

All you have to do to win is share in the comments – if you are a writer, what are you hoping to get this holiday season? Or, what was the best present you ever got? Think of it as a public service – there are only four days of Chanukah left, but there’s still plenty of time to get these presents, for yourself or from somebody you love… If you are all out of ideas, just leave a comment and we’ll throw your name in the magic hat.

Thank you for sharing your ideas, and may your holidays be filled with generosity, warmth, laughter, and light!

CHRISTMAS WEEK CONTESTS: Remember, there are TWO ways to win! Each day this week (December 14th - 18th) a guest blogger will give away a signed book to one person randomly chosen from the comment section. Today's prize is THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF TIME TRAVEL ROMANCE, featuring a story by author Michele Lang! Check back in this post tomorrow morning to find out if you are the winner! Look for Michele's upcoming release LADY LAZURUS in 2010.

Also, at the bottom of each post there is a scavenger hunt question. The answer can be located somewhere on the author's website. Send in all 5 correct answers* to the scavenger hunt questions, and you will be entered in a drawing to win a TKA Surprise Christmas Stocking filled with books and holiday treats!!!

SCAVENGER HUNT QUESTION (2 of 5): What is the name of the literary character that Michele says mirrors her own writing style? Visit www.MicheleLang.com to find the answer!

*Please note, that the correct answers to the scavenger hunt questions must be sent in at one time. You must collect all 5 answers and send them in one email. Entries for the scavenger hunt will be accepted from Friday, December 18th thru Sunday, December 20th at midnight. The winner will be announed on this blog Monday, December 21st, 2009. If you have any questions about this contest, please contact contests(AT)knightagency.net.

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Blogger Lori said...

Thank you Michele, it's nice to read something so lovely about an oft overlooked holiday.

Chanukah is our household was always celebrated by the plaing of a scratchy record of Chanukah songs and my father urging everyone to dance. I wish I still had all those songs but I remember most of them and sing them to my daughter.

As a writer my most precious gift is time and quiet. As a working, single mother there isn't a lot of it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 9:40:00 AM EST  
Blogger LSUReader said...

Best present? My two grandchildren, born last year, just weeks apart. Thanks for the interesting post.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 10:03:00 AM EST  
Blogger Margay Leah Justice said...

This year, my best present will be having my college-age daughter home for a month before she goes back to school. That is all I could ever want.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 10:15:00 AM EST  
Blogger Linda Henderson said...

What a lovely post. I enjoyed it very much. My best present this year was my granddaughter. She was born at 23 weeks weighing 1 pound 2.7 ounces and was 11 1/2 inches long. She wasn't expected to live, but she was born a fighter and our miracle little girl came home in July after 4 months in the NICU. She now weighs a little over 8 pounds and is 21 inches long. She is a whopper compared to what she was. So this holiday season we celebrate two miracle births. I had just put this book on my wish list, would love to win a copy. Happy holidays everyone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 10:40:00 AM EST  
Blogger Beleth said...

The best present i ever got was a certificate that said i had donated money to Unicef.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 10:46:00 AM EST  
Blogger elaing8 said...

my best present was a necklace i got with my initial on it.Got it as a teenager and I still have it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 12:01:00 PM EST  
Blogger tetewa said...

The best present I ever got was tickets to see the play Phantom of the Opera!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 12:23:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kara said...

What a great post...

What I am hoping to get this Christmas are some bookstore gift certificates. Not very original, I know...but every year I ask for them and believe it or not...I never get them.

The best present I ever got was my puppy when I was eight years old. I named her Kara's Holiday (Holly for short). She was a black cocker spaniel and simply adorable.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 1:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger INCiDeNT (Kayleigh) said...

The best present I've ever got would have to be: my bike. Sounds ridiculous, but I loved the idea of imagined freedom when riding it. ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 2:54:00 PM EST  
Blogger Rashda Khan said...

Hi Michele,

Loved your linking the candles of Chanukah to the creative spark. Beautiful image. The holiday reminds me of the Indian/Hindi Festival of Lights --Deewali. It's about bringing light into the world. Aren't stories a way of revealing truths? Isn't every Happy Endings a candle of hope?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 3:20:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Brindle said...

My best present this year, was finally landing a publishing contract. So, as requested, as a writer.. my xmas wish is for early delivery of my first round of edits. I am bursting with anxiety, waiting for them to come. *lol*

Anywho... Merry Christmas/Holidays/etc everyone. May your wishes come true!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 5:35:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Chelsea B. said...

That was a great post!

The best present I've ever gotten was a locket with two very secial pictures in either side.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 7:08:00 PM EST  
Blogger Soullumination said...

Hi Michele! Happy Chanukah!

Like you the best gift I ever received was the time and attention of a teacher.

My mother had recently died and I'd moved to a new school. Mrs Goldblum was challenging and gave feedback - good & bad - on my creative writing assignments.

She'll always have a special place in my heart.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 7:36:00 PM EST  
Blogger Barbara E. said...

A really special gift to me was a digital camera from my son last year. I've enjoyed it so much. The gift of spending time with my family is always special, I wish I could receive that one this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 7:54:00 PM EST  
Blogger Rain Maiden said...

This year for Christmas me and my husband decided to not get gift for each other and spend more on the kids. I find so much joy watching the kids open their gifts. I feel like a kid all over again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 9:41:00 PM EST  
Blogger Amanda Sun said...

I really enjoyed this post. What an experience to have a teacher like that who believed in you!

The best present I've ever received is my daughter who has brought so much joy into my life.

The best Christmas present I ever received as a child was a tank of four goldfish. They lived over a year and I loved having such an important responsibility.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 10:39:00 PM EST  
Blogger donnas said...

I am not a writer. But the best present I ever got was a kitten. He was so cute and sweet and I had wanted one forever.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 11:40:00 PM EST  
Blogger Tez Miller said...

One year my sister got me the fabulously cuddly blanket. I use it when I get chilly in this room.

Another year my brother got me a portable fan-heater. Really small, but good to warm my footsies in winter (which is not now - it's summer, and it's BLOODY HOT).

And my parents bought me an office chair this year. Okay, I chose the chair, and the parents paid for it ;-)

Practical presents really are the best :-)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 12:09:00 AM EST  
Blogger Pam P said...

HappyCHanukah, Michele!

Best present I ever got was a few years ago when my father gave me the trip he was awarded, all expenses paid to a Mexican resort.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 5:36:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Michele Lang said...

Thank you so much, everybody, for sharing your thoughts and stories :) Isn't it amazing how the best presents we get are often simply the chance to spend time w/the people we love?

MolliesMom, I went to a Chanukah party over the weekend and we sat together and sang songs for the entire time the candles burned. It was awesome :)

LSUReader, Margay, Linda H, BarbaraE, Rainmaiden, Amanda: That is so beautiful, that the very existence of your family is a gift to you!

Beleth: Giving is truly a gift in itself :)

ChelseaB and Elaing8 -- I have jewelry from my childhood too that reminds me of the giver whenever I see it...

tetewa: I love Phantom!

Kara: books are always the best presents -- and puppies are awesome :)

Incident: I love the feeling of freedom on a bike too...

RK: Thank you!

Brindle: Huge congrats! Enjoy the rollercoaster, the ups and the downs...it's a wild ride :)

Soullumination: A beautiful story...thank you for sharing it!

donnas: I got a dog for a birthday present one year, and did I love that sweet girl :)

Tez: These days, I love to get slippers, tee shirts, and coffee mugs ;)

PamP: Wow, what an awesome present...that's an amazing story!

Thanks again to all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 6:28:00 AM EST  

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